Proposed scenic byway route changed

Published 8:00 am Friday, January 18, 2019

Volunteers, officials to meet with county Tuesday for support

LYNN — With the proposed scenic byway in Lynn continuing to make progress, the commission tasked with its creation is asking for the community to show its support during a Polk County Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday.

The scenic byway stemmed from citizen outcry over a proposed North Carolina Department of Transportation plan to widen Highway 108 between Columbus and Tryon last year. After months of meetings and a rally, the state’s plan died, and local leaders asked the community to devise plans for a scenic byway designation along the highway instead.

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The Polk County Board of Commissioners appointed Polk County Appearance Commission Chair Joe Cooper to chair the project, with assistance from volunteers. These volunteers include Tom Brylowe, Melissa LeRoy, Becky Oliver, Olivia Pleasants Whiteside and Dorothy Easley.

“The NCDOT Scenic Byway Department has counseled that scenic byways turn on community support,” Easley said. “To date, the chosen potential route has received only positive feedback, and citizens in Polk County have already pledged roughly $3,500 to cover the application and application expert’s costs to have the scenic byway accepted and designated by the NCDOT.

“But the [commissioners] will benefit from hearing Polk County citizens voicing their support at [Monday’s] meeting, where the NCDOT Scenic Byway heads are coming all the way from Raleigh to meet us, and present and answer the commissioners’ and the community’s questions.”

Easley said the commissioners need to hear and see the support for this project so they know they are acting in accordance with the citizens’ values and priorities.

“The scenic byway, the second of two in Polk County, is a perfect fit for this county and benefits not just the immediately surrounding community, but all communities in the county,” Easley said.

The new proposed route deletes Warrior Drive from the initial proposal. The latest proposal goes from the corner of Skyuka Road and Highway 108 near the Pacolet Baptist Church, turns right before the Pacolet River Bridge onto Old Howard Gap Road, passes historic landmarks and scenic farms, takes a left onto Howard Gap Road, loops back onto Highway 108/Lynn Road, then right onto Erskine Road and ties into Highway 176.

Easley said the scenic byway could recognize some of Polk County’s unique, truly scenic gems.

“It aids small business owners and artisans in our rural, yet sophisticated mountain towns by acting as a draw to lure visitors to them, to spend their money in our shops, restaurants, theaters and inns and then leave without polluting our waters and tearing down our old home,” Easley said. “Visitors wind down quaint roads with farms, historic inns, historic homes, old growth forests, to enter our quaint towns that have an authenticity that simply cannot be replicated.”

Another plus, Easley said, is that scenic byways do not regulate businesses and grandfathers in all current businesses’ off-premise signage.

“A scenic byway also promotes conservation and protects natural resources, by keeping our resources ‘scenic’ and our streams and rivers clean,” Easley said. “It protects our historic homes and landmarks by recognizing they are a vital part of what makes Polk County scenic.”

“Polk County’s rich collections of scenic assets provides the citizenry with the opportunity to leverage those assets for the benefit of all members of the community by promoting sustainable economic growth for generations,” Brylowe said.

Easley said the Polk County Board of Commissioners, who have supported this scenic byway project, should be praised for their foresight and integrity, not just for this generation, but for future generations.

Polk County’s meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in the R. Jay Foster Hall of Justice, located on the second floor of the Womack building in Columbus.